Gunmen Kill Egyptian General; Ousted Mursi Defiant at Trial
Qairo- Suspected Islamist gunmen on a motorcycle killed a top Interior Ministry official in Cairo on Tuesday in the latest blow to a military-backed Egyptian government struggling to curb violence and suppress dissent.General Mohamed Saeed, head of the ministry’s technical office, was shot in his car outside his home in daytime.The shooting occurred hours before deposed President Mohamed Mursi appeared in court on charges of kidnapping and killing policemen after a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of autocracy.
Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Mursi in July after mass protests against his rule and is expected to declare soon that he will run for president. With no challenger in sight, that would effectively return Egypt to military rule.A Sisi presidency would delight many Egyptians, but would anger the Muslim Brotherhood, which helped Mursi become Egypt’s first freely elected leader. The government has since declared it a terrorist group. The outlawed Brotherhood denies any links to the militants now waging an increasingly potent insurgency.Also on Tuesday, gunmen killed a policeman guarding a church in October 6 city, west of Cairo, security sources said.
The Brotherhood says Sisi’s removal of Mursi was a coup that reversed the democratic gains of the anti-Mubarak revolt. Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between the security forces and Mursi supporters since August.The authorities have crippled the Brotherhood’s power to put large crowds in the streets, but now face Islamist violence that recalls the armed uprising crushed by Mubarak in the 1990s.
At Mursi’s trial, held in a police academy in Cairo, the deposed president was held in a glass cage with a sound system controlled by the court to prevent him screaming slogans against Sisi as he did in previous court sessions. Human rights groups see Mursi’s treatment as part of a wide crackdown on opposition.Mursi insisted he was still Egypt’s true president and raged at the judge, asking: “Who are you? Don’t you know who I am?”At times Mursi, in a white training suit, paced in his cage. Other Brotherhood leaders, held in a separate glass cage, waved to people in the courtroom. The trial was adjourned to February 22.A list of 132 defendants published by state media indicated some were Palestinians being tried in absentia. Egypt accuses the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas of helping Brotherhood leaders escape from the jail where Mursi was held in 2011.The authorities also say Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has funded Egyptian militant groups based in the nearby Sinai peninsula which have claimed responsibility for several bomb and gun attacks in recent months. Hamas denies the accusations. (Reuters)